It’s inevitable that conflicts will arise in your relationship. How you handle those conflicts says something about the communication pattern that has been established in the relationship. After all, what’s a relationship without communication? Not a desirable one that’s for sure. Putting forth the effort necessary to build strong communication patterns will certainly produce rewarding benefits. Your ability to communicate is probably the most essential ingredient in maintaining a healthy relationship.
Communication isn’t always as simple as “I, the sender have a message and you, the receiver, gets that message.” There are several roadblocks that inhibit and interfere with the communication process. Distractions, too much information to process at once, selective filtering that prompts you to hear certain points while leaving out others, assumptions and I could honestly keep going on about the things that can disrupt the communication process but I won’t. What I would love to do instead is offer you some helpful tips to improve your communication so that you can handle conflicts more effectively.
Here are 3 simple ways to enhance your communication skills.
1. Use Reflection
Reflection is a technique that will enable you to become a better listener. Listening happens to be the most important aspect of the communication process. When using reflection, you repeat what your partner has said but in your own words. This communicates to your partner that you didn’t just hear them, but you are also trying to understand them. When engaged in a conflict, often times one or both partners feel they are either not being heard or not being understood. Both can be very upsetting which does nothing to de-escalate the intensity of emotions felt during this time. Be mindful of your tone when using reflection. Your reflections don’t have to be perfect so if your partner modifies or revises your reflection that can actually be a good thing. This allows for further clarity which helps you to better understand how your significant other is feeling.
2. Use “I” Messages
Taking responsibility for your feelings will help you improve your communication when you feel upset or angry. When you use an “I” statement, you communicate your feelings without assigning blame to your partner. If your partner feels they are being blamed, they will likely become defensive. Your goal is to quickly resolve the conflict and come to a resolution or an agreement that you can both be satisfied with. Blaming and defensiveness won’t get you there as easily.
3. Know Your Rights and Your Responsibilities
You have a right to be treated with respect. You have a right to express your needs and wants. You have a right to feel your feelings without judging them and most importantly you are a human being capable of making mistakes. You have a responsibility to observe and acknowledge these same rights with regards to your partner. You have a responsibility to treat your partner with respect. You have a responsibility to actively listen to their needs and wants. You have a responsibility to accept your partner’s feelings without judgment, ridicule or blame. Most of all, they too are human and capable of making mistakes. Communication is a journey, some pathways are smooth while others are lined with obstacles, detours and potholes. Implementing strategies that will navigate you throughout your journey will be the key to successfully arriving at your communication destination.
If you wanted to get better at playing golf, cooking or any other area of interest, you would most likely practice to improve your skill. You need to spend time in the areas of your relationship where you could improve by practicing. Communication is a skill. Some of us do a better job at it than others. It is a skill that takes effort and practice in order to improve. Remember too that how you frame and deliver your message matters more than the words you choose. Become a better communicator today by using these simple ways to enhance your skills. Good luck at practice!
Want to have a happier, healthier marriage?
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
More by Kerri Anne Brown